Skype Service Slowly Spinning Back Up After Global Outage

Some Skype users are still suffering a lack of service or slow responses after a massive global outage knocked the Internet voice and video chat service offline for hours on Wednesday.

In a Thursday blog post, Skype said service has returned to many users, but a good portion of its millions of users are still waiting for service to return.

"Millions of you are already reporting that you can now sign in to Skype normally, and we estimate that there are already almost 5 million people online," Peter Parkes, Skype's social media communications lead, wrote in the Thursday blog update to provide a status check on the Skype outage. "As a guide, this is around 30 percent of what we'd expect at this time of day -- and that number is increasing all the time. Unfortunately, it’s not possible for us to predict on an individual level when you’ll be able to sign in again, and we thank you for your patience in the meantime."

Around 9 a.m. eastern, Skype wrote on its official Twitter page that in the past hour the number of users online increased dramatically, hitting more than 10 million.

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The Skype outage affected millions of users of Skype's often free Web-based phone and video calling service. Skype originally reported the outage around noon eastern on Wednesday and Skype said it would work 'non-stop' to bring its services back online. Nearly three hours later, Skype said service had started to return to some users.

Skype blamed the outage on a lack of "supernodes," computers that act as phone directories on Skype's network. A number of supernodes failed because of a software issue, Skype said Thursday. That software issue has been identified and Skype engineers are working to resolve it, Parkes wrote.

Parkes added that Skype's enterprise product, Skype Connect, is running normally, though Skype Manager and other Web-based Skype functions will continue to stay off-line. Other features, like group video calling, will also take longer to return to full steam, Parkes wrote.

It was unclear exactly how many Skype users were affected by the Skype outage, but many estimates indicate it was several million.

"We're sincerely sorry for this disruption -- like you, all of us at Skype rely on Skype every day," Parkes wrote. "We understand just how important Skype is to your friendships, family, and work, and so are particularly aware of the impact of rare problems like this. We're working hard to restore full functionality to the Skype software, and hope to have more information to share soon."

Skype's outage comes as the company prepares for an IPO and just months after Skype launched a formal channel program around its paid enterprise offerings. The company, which is partially owned by online auction giant eBay, boasts almost 600 million registered users.

Wednesday's Skype outage marks the second stretch of downtime that the service suffered this year. In January, the service went down for nearly four hours. Before that, in August 2007, an outage took Skype offline for a day and a half.